Monday, March 28, 2016

Letter to the Chronicle on Minimum Wage

Hi Mark, 
     I realize you're likely to get a flurry of letters in response to the minimum wage pieces you had in your last issue. Thank you for running those, btw. I also enjoyed the photos and story on your trip to the Holy Land. Very nice. I am enclosing a letter with my admittedly prosaic thoughts on the wage discussion. If you would like to run it, I'd be delighted. Awhile back, you noted what a fine magazine The Atlantic is. Taking your advice, or possibly due to the lovely portrait of Barack Obama on the cover of the most recent issue, I took the plunge and subscribed. Thank you for the recommendation. 

To the editor:
     Assemblywoman Woerner's proposal, for a regionally adjusted minimum wage, has changed the debate. I hope that her fellow Democrats, including the governor, recognize the utility in a plan that takes into account the cost of living differences between upstate and downstate. I appreciate that when she says her approach is data driven, she has put forth the effort to look at statistics applicable to each region. She admits the idea will need tweaking, but it sounds like an innovative first step and worth exploring. 

     Matt Funiciello mentions Seattle having raised their minimum to $15 per hour. Using an online calculator, I found the cost of living in Albany (GF area is not available) is 80% of what it is in Seattle. Fittingly, the wage Ms. Woerner is suggesting for the Albany/GF region is $12 an hour, or 80% of $15. The added benefit of her legislation is the greater possibility of it coming to fruition. I'm optimistic that our state Republican office holders are more open to compromise than their federal brethren. 

     Robin Barkenhagen's idea of a tax deduction for employers, at least recognizes they would face a hardship if they were required to go up to $15 per hour. It seems to this admitted non-economist that the lost revenue would leave a big hole in the state budget which would have to be filled. And maybe I'm looking at it wrong, but it appears the business owners who are paying the lowest wages would get the largest deduction because they would be raising pay the most. That seems unfair to those already paying decent wages. 

Thank you and be well,

Kevin Robbins    

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